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Online friends

Adolescence is the phase of exploration, of finding an identity separate and distinct from parents hence, adolescents form relationships and groups because of this need to develop a self-identity. It is also period of storm and stress because of the pressures of school, families and friends and of developing intimate relationships with the opposite sex. The key developmental task of adolescence is identity, autonomy, intimacy and sexuality (Greenfield and Subrahmanyan, 2008).

In order to become a psychologically-matured adult, teens must develop sound judgment, independent attitude, healthy intimate relationship with the opposite sex and clear and distinct view on his sexuality during the adolescent age otherwise he will not be equipped to deal with the more complex problem during adult life. Teens of today are very much exposed to electronic media and these media are their primary means of acquiring information and of forming or developing friendships.

A Direct Science article quoted that an American teenager spends an average of 3 hours and 16 minutes a day in front of the television sets or in front of the computer. Because of this exposure, teens acquire online friends, or friends whom he interacts with by visiting social media sites like chat rooms, social networking sites, message boards and web pages. Modern-day parents also take two to three jobs and chances are they don’t spend much time with their kids to guide their emotional and social development so the peers are the primary of the teens’ social and emotional support group.

Adolescents need some form of self-expression and communicating with online friends are the easiest way of discussing their feelings and dealing with the pressures of adolescent lives. The cyber world is a vast space and they have chances of meeting people with similar interests and they are in no danger of having their offer of friendship rejected on the basis of looks or on personality. As interaction progresses, friendship deepen and secrets and problems are shared. Online friends help teens express themselves and provide mental and emotional support which may be lacking because of parents’ pre-occupation with their jobs.

Online friends are different from flesh and blood peers because of geography and the lack of physical presence but friendships flourish because of shared interests. Some teens would find it easier to open up their hearts to people they cannot see especially those teens who are too shy to talk to someone in person because they may feel that they can hide behind the safety of their computer screen. Online friends can also boost the teens self confidence because he can tell what he really feels if the confidante is not physically near.

Another trait which can be developed in an adolescent with online friends is that he can learn to respect other’s viewpoints because he gets to interact with people from different countries which have different culture and different sets of values. One downside of online friendship is the chance that a teen may encounter online predators that have perverse views and through this type of people he may develop deviant attitude. In spite of the popularity of online communication, teens are closer to friends which live in the same geographical area.

A study by Oxford Internet Institute revealed that friends met in the neighborhood and schools were usually closer than friends met online. Similarity in geographical location and gender are two of the most important factors of friendship development because even if teen uses modern gadgets to manage their online friends, teens still look for the factors proximity and similarity to initiate and to develop friendships (Mesch & Talmud, 2007). The psychological development of the teens is dependent on the person he interacts with.

He forms friendships with people near his residence offline based on shared interest but there are also individuals who also shares his viewpoint on things and the more he interacts with these people through electronic media he learns to express his views, form relationships, gain vast knowledge on the places away from his residence and creates an identity uniquely his own. References Greenfield, P & Subrahmanyam,K. ,“ Online Communication and Adolescent Relationships” retrieved on May 18, 2010 from the website http://www.

futureofchildren. org/futureofchildren/publications/journals/article/ind ex. xml? journalid=32&articleid=59&sectionid=279&submit Mesch, G. & Talmud I. , “Homophily and Quality of Online and Offline Social Relationships among Adolescents” retrieved from May 18, 2010 from the website http://soc. haifa. ac. il/~talmud/homophillyfinal%200710041. pdf Suler, J. , “Psychology of the Cyberspace: Adolescents in Cyberspace, The Good, The Bad and0 the Ugly” retrieved May 18, 2010 from the website http://truecenterpoint. com/ce/adolescents. html

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